Hello, Gorgeous! Today’s post is part of a new mini series called #BlushBoss. I love to get to know the readers of Blush & Camo and through talking to many of you I quickly found out all of you are a total #BlushBosses! You are driven, follow your goals, and know how to #sidehustle like no ones business. You have dreams and aren’t afraid to work hard towards them. Each of you inspire me everyday and so this series is a celebration of strong women who dared to follow their dream and make it a reality. I hope this mini series gives you a little inspiration to continue to go after your goals and never give up!
In this #BlushBoss series I’ve teamed up with CEO’s of amazing companies, asked them to share insight on their business, and give Blush & Camo readers insight as to what it takes to be your own boss.
Today’s #BlushBoss is Ashely from DTK Austin Styling and she has been featured on my blog before when I did a mini series called Friday Favorite! Many of you know her on Instagram at @dtkaustin, but did you know she has her own styling business?! She’s such an inspiration, and the coolest girl ever, so make sure you read her full interview below!
#BlushBoss: Ashley from DTK Styling
Name: Ashley Hargrove
Current Title/Company: Advertising Wardrobe Stylist
Past Education: BA of Architecture and Business Management
What was your first job out of college? Architect
What inspired you to start your own company? I was tired of feeling like I was wasting my life away, sitting at a desk and staring at a computer for 10+ hours a day.
What advice would you give to Blush Babe readers thinking about starting their own business? I would say go for it! It was the hardest thing I have ever done, financially speaking, but after a lot of hard work, planning and saving, I made my move to self-employment.
What was your biggest fear in starting your own business? The hardest part for me was not having a set pay check and having to rely on myself to pay for my own health insurance, start an IRA so I can actually have a retirement. I started hoarding my money because I wouldn’t know if I would book jobs consistently or not. And I didn’t at first, so saving was priority! Plus, paying income tax + self-employment tax isn’t fun! You end up paying double compared to everyone else.
Take Blush Babe readers through your journey of developing your own styling company. How did you ensure your business was a success? I grew up always wanting to be an architect. I helped my father build and renovate multiple houses to flip and fell in love with all aspects of design. I set a goal to graduate high school in 3 years and start pursuing my dream to become a successful architect. College took a lot longer than I had expected, but I emerged with a degree in Business Management and Architecture.
As luck had it, I ended up graduating in 2008 when the market tanked. I started looking for jobs in other cities close to Fort Worth and quickly found an architecture firm in Austin that was actually hiring. After all of the headache with moving and starting a new life, I was full force working at a firm; 50-60 hours a week. What I quickly learned is that having a job where I am confined to a desk was absolutely not for me, especially in a city like Austin.
I thought to myself, I know fashion, I am great with people, and I know I can start a business inspiring people to dress better!
That is when DTK (Dressed to Kill) Austin Styling emerged. After considering all of the hurdles I would need to jump, I took on working for the firm and building my wardrobe styling business, at the same time. Not only was I working 50+ hours a week at the firm, I was working 40+ hours a week for free building my brand. I did this for an entire year. It was extremely exhausting and it was hard on my marriage, but I ended up coming out on top. I was able to quit my full time job after working and building a portfolio and clientele. This was honestly the best decision I have ever made for myself and extremely uplifting. I, alone, was able to create something from nothing and supplement all of my income, plus some, and make a very successful living.
I ensured my business would be a success by always making sure I was in a stable financial situation and being extremely proactive in trying to book jobs or take on more clients. Persistence is key!
What were some of the biggest challenges and greatest rewards you faced while starting your business?Creating a job out of nothing was extremely challenging. Knowing I had the idea and drive was the easy part, but to actually turn that into making a living was quite difficult! The rewards outweigh any of the negatives though. Being able to make my own schedule and travel whenever I please is the absolute best. I no longer have to worry about not having enough vacation time if I want to get away for a few days. My work takes me all over the US and I get to meet some amazing people along the way! I couldn’t be happier.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My day-to-day changes frequently depending on what types of projects I have to prep for or if I have a shoot that day. A normal, casual day that I’m not wardrobe styling is actually pretty hectic trying to keep the blog together. I try and get up, go work out and get to the house to catch up on emails, interacting on Instagram, which can take hours. Then start scheduling out my posts for the day, plan outfits to shoot around 4pm and finally start getting my actual blog post together for that day.
Now, if I am prepping for a wardrobe styling job I will get up early, skip the workout, make my schedule on where I need to pull and shop to make things as efficient as possible. Organization is key with shopping for multiple talent that aren’t the runway model type. With commercial styling you get more of the “real” talent that have real bodies of all shapes and sizes. Most people require shopping at multiple stores and I will normally need to get 10-15 outfit options per model including shoes and accessories for men and women. Some jobs will require days of shopping and then days of returns after the shoot is complete.
If I am actually on set shooting that day, I will normally get up aroundÂ 4amÂ forÂ 5amÂ call-times and be on set tilÂ 6-9pmÂ most shoot days!
Give Blush Babe readers an idea of what goes into styling for a client or commercial job?
Depending on what type of job it is will really depend on what goes into each day.
Let’s use my Lyft commercial job styling Danica Patrick as an example. I was called by the art director about a week prior to the actual job and was told the scope of the project. Which was that I needed to costume Danica Patrick to go undercover for a commercial.
I immediately start working with her team on getting measurements so I can shop for appropriate clothing and disguises. Depending on how big the job is, I will charge for a certain amount of shopping days, shoot days and return days. So in this case, I shopped for 1 full day to make sure I had enough options for her. The catch with this job was that I needed to fly to Charlotte for less than 48 hours! SO, I packed a very large suitcase with all of her stuff and a small carryon with all my personal necessities.
I fly into Charlotte late at night, sleep and wake up atÂ 6amÂ to get everything prepped for shoot day. We stage at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and I then unpack and organize everything. Danica arrives and they start her hair and make-up and then get her dressed. After my job is done, I get into a â€œchaser vanâ€ so I can keep an eye on wardrobe and disguises. Once shoot day is over, I packed up, flew back home and then returned everything the next day.Â
There are quite a few other jobs that are extremely intense where I will have to shop for 45 talent, bring 10-12 options per person in multiple size runs and be on set, standing for 18 hours a day and do it all over again for a full week. Itâ€™s exhausting, but I love it!
What is the best moment of your career to date?
I think every job I book is the best moment for me. When I think about how far I have come and how I booked this job on my own because I’m actually talented and good at my job; I feel a sense of major accomplishment! Not everyone has made it as far on their own and I am very proud of those moments!
What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?
I’m an old soul! So my 22 year old self had already started a company and I was making big moves to better my life. But now, in my 30s, I wish I wouldn’t have worked so hard back then. I wish I would have enjoyed life and traveled more instead of focusing all of my time and energy on graduating college, moving to Austin, working my ass off for an architecture firm and then working double time to start a business. It was a LOT of time and effort! Yes, it’s paid off but there went my 20s!
Ashley is a total #BlushBoss…
What is your best piece of styling advice? To be confident in what you’re doing and stand your ground!
You wish you knew how to… dance!
What is your favorite way to unwind? Having a full day off to do absolutely nothing but lay in bed with my dog, Steven!
If you could pick one Sex and The City character, who would you be? Hmmm that’s a tough one!! Honestly, probably Miranda!
If you could have brunch with three women who would they be? Princess Diana, Lucille Ball, Angelina Jolie (not a major fan, by any means, but would love to pick her brain!)
Thank you SO much for stopping by Blush & Camo! I would love to hear from you in the comments below what your goals are and your #BlushBoss traits your using to make it happen:)!